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Categories: Main courses, Vegetarian

Roasted Eggplant (Baigan ka Bhartha)

First came the onions. I peeled, sliced and fried them all morning long--mounds of onions filling three large aluminum stockpots. I sprinkled in some spices--sparsely--and stirred. Then I took three shrimp, sliced them up the middle, laid them on a ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes | Serves 6 to 8
Note: The bhartha is the favorite preparation of eggplant for northern Indians. This dish goes well with white basmati rice, naan bread and yogurt.
  • 2 large eggplants (choose ripe pieces that are soft to the touch)
  • 1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter) or 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 cups grated or finely chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 fresh Thai green chiles, chopped, optional
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, with plenty of stem, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala

Step 1Place an aluminum liner or foil beneath 2 gas burners and stand the eggplants, stem up, directly over a low flame. Allow the bottom of the eggplants to burn black until they look fully scorched. Lay the eggplants on their side. As soon as the area directly exposed to the flame turns soft, turn the eggplants slightly. Move them by grasping the stem. If there is no stem, use a pair of kitchen tongs--or two knives as levers--holding the eggplants from the top, nowhere else. Be careful not to burst the eggplants with the tongs. Keep doing this until both eggplants are fully roasted. This will be messy, but don't despair. The process should take about 20 minutes. You can also place the eggplants beneath a broiler, turning them, about 15 minutes.

Step 2Place the eggplants in a colander in the sink and run cold water over them, peeling the scorched outer skin under the flow of water. Shake off the water. Coarsely chop the eggplant flesh and set it aside in a bowl.

Step 3Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. As soon as they puff up, add the onions, ginger, garlic and turmeric. Fry this mixture until it begins to turn brown, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the green chiles, cilantro and tomatoes. Decrease the heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped eggplant and the salt, frying and stirring until very soft, about 20 minutes.

Step 4Serve hot, seasoned with lemon juice and garam masala and garnished with cilantro leaves.

Each of 8 servings:
156 calories; 448 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 14 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 2.02 grams fiber.
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